“Joy is much bigger than happiness. While happiness is often seen as being dependent on external circumstances, joy is not…The path to joy does not lead away from suffering and adversity but through it.”
To say this quote from The Book of Joy rocked my world would be an understatement. I feel like it flies in the face of our cultural conditioning where we are taught all kinds of strategies to avoid discomfort, pain, and suffering. Feeling blue? Go shopping. Problems in your relationship? Have a glass of wine. Soul sucking job? Lose yourself in your latest gadget and the bandaid effect of social media.
But according to two of our world’s most esteemed spiritual leaders—His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu—opposition and struggle are actually essential to our enjoyment of life. And these two incredible people would know! They have both faced unbelievable adversity and come out smiling, laughing, and so very playful.
In 2015, on the occasion of the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday, Douglas Abrams, The Book of Joy’s writer, witnessed and captured five days of intimate conversation. He brings to life the immense compassion these two influential men share for humanity, plus their spirited energy and deep affection for one another. (Case in point: in this photo, the Dalai Lama does a little shimmy as he learns a few dance moves from Desmond Tutu!)
Recently, I had a chance to talk about this beautiful book with my friends Anne Berube and David Maginley in a video conversation hosted by Nancy Regan. Nancy is the heart behind The Soul Booth, a web interview series that offers meaningful conversation meant to inspire and connect. As an avid reader, Nancy has created an online Book Club to share the books that have been breadcrumbs on her path.
In this inaugural episode of The Soul Booth Book Club, we all agree that although there is no user manual in life, this book is a pretty good blueprint for how to be a fully alive, engaged, and compassionate human.
Please check it out and let me know what you think. I hope our conversation inspires you to go out and find your own copy of The Book of Joy and share it with those you love.